He was really dirty because he had been repairing the car.

Is it possible to say this even if the repairs have been completed, but I don't want to emphasize the completion just the fact that being dirty is a result of the action?


The past perfect continuous (also called past perfect progressive) is used to show that an action started in the past and continued up to another point in the past. There is no implication that the action was either completed, or not completed, at the later point. At the time being discussed, he was really dirty because he had been repairing the car. That's all we know. He might have been still working, or have interrupted the work for a break, or have finished the job.

  • so the car could be repaired, meaning running again. – anouk Jan 13 '19 at 11:30
  • We do not know if the job of repairing the car was finished or not. – Michael Harvey Jan 13 '19 at 11:35
  • does "he was dirty because he had repaired the car" sound natural? – anouk Jan 13 '19 at 11:37
  • You could say "he was very dirty because he had just finished repairing the car". – Michael Harvey Jan 13 '19 at 12:40
  • 1
    If a repair of something is completed or finished, then that thing is back to how it was before it was broken or stopped working. – Michael Harvey Jan 13 '19 at 12:48

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